The professor's carriage had proved invaluable in the beginning of her journey, as the construction would have otherwise been left to gather dust in the stables ever since its original owner had taken to shutting himself off from even the light of the moon, preferring instead to pore over ancient tomes and books, giddy in his excitement to study his own immortal flesh.
Sarah set out at once, the poundings of the horses' hooves striking a rhythm that carried her over hill and dale, chasing the horizon.
Venice made her drunk. She danced amidst the street lamps, cerulean feathers framing her golden mask as she drank her fill on blood so rich in exquisite wine that the constellations in the clear night sky were dimmed in a cloud of haze when she stole away on a gondola to take respite from the city-wide affair. Tracing the intricate pattern on the mosaic walls of a Roman bath house with the cusp of her finger as the steam rose about the pool, she found herself wishing for her sponge.
She visited each opium den in Shanghai twice over, intoxicated by the smog as well as its benefactors. Sarah won each drinking contest met in a challenge, her prize a liquor that quenched the burning of her throat like no other as they caved in below the tables, limbs come asunder in the rigor of death.
Red tarnished her clothing in both blood and color as she emerged from the streets of Bombay, busy with celebration of thousands.
It was easy to get lost in the underground of the Wieliczka salt mine, yet to surface the next night to savor Krakow's best nalewka in the fleeting company of the travelling circus gone when the sun rose.
An old crone watched her as she passed a cathedral. The woman made the sign of the cross as if to ward off evil, muttering prayers behind clasped hands. Strigoi, she hissed. Sarah gave her a mocking bow.
In the midst of Vienna's City Hall Square, a flower girl breathed the most pitiful sigh as she faded, the petals of her last lotus blossom falling into a puddle at her feet, ripples on the water's surface creating a distortion of her still, pale face. The opera Sarah found magnificent in turn, humming the melody of the evening's aria as she walked among the darkened alleys with fresh blood smearing her lips.
Changing course, she boarded a ship to Nassau on a whim, in the ports of which she discovered a passion for gambling and an aftertaste of sanguine grog.
In the bitter winter of Moscow Sarah came upon a working girl who embraced her like a sister, her petite frame of brittle bones shivering as the snow storm raged around them. The flimsy rags of her dress revealed bruises and blotches that wilted along with her beating heart. The girl's wispy fingers no longer fluttered like so many aimless birds as she descended on the whoremonger.
London was swarming with theatres, the Thames drawing a trail of victims in its wake. The peasant folk were inclined towards ale rather than the filth of the city's water, and as such no one would look twice if a heap of drunks would fall down into the muck of a ditch, not to rise anew in the morning.
The following year, Sarah's feet led her back towards the mountains and mist and splendor of the Count's castle, the ballroom vibrant with music. She danced a minuet in the arms of Alfred; indulged in the merriment of the gavotte with Herbert; soared above ivory marble in the embrace of her gracious host in waltz after waltz. The feast was plentiful.
Eight hours of sitting produced a striking likeness, the painted replica encased in the gilded frame no less dazzling than the crimson gown against her skin as she stood before the wall of portraits.
She stood before the mausoleum. The Count reached out his hand and she took it in hers.
The first rays of sunlight illuminated the emptied cemetery grounds, the air filled with the scent of freshly dug graves.